Self Destruction in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre

Self Destruction in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre by Sin Morgan

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‘Love and Other Disasters’ is our annual Museums at Night event, an opportunity to explore hundreds of Britain’s best cultural institutions after hours. Our event will be a chance to hear readings of short extracts from favourite tales of love, both fiction and non-fiction, poetry or prose. Our interns and staff will be blogging about the pieces they will read out; if you would like to volunteer to read something, or have a piece read out for you, get in touch before Friday (see details below). In this piece, Siân Morgan, one of our library interns, discusses one of her favourite books about being in love, from which she will read an extract on Friday night…

When I was asked to choose a reading for Love and Other Disasters, similar in format to last autumn’s All Hallows Eve, I was stuck. When I think of love my mind conjures up images of pink flowers, cards; basically all of the things advertised in the run-up to February 14th.

I asked the opinion of my fellow interns (who will also be reading tomorrow night). Over dinner one night, they began throwing names and titles of various romantic (and not so romantic) texts and eventually, somewhat unavoidably, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre was mentioned.

I love ‘cheese’ (the adjective, not the dairy product) and my friends would be the first to tell you that I have particularly bad taste in books, films and music, but I can’t help it. Naturally, when Jane Eyre was mentioned I couldn’t help but be intrigued. I have read both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea; I’ve seen the films and had countless discussions about fictional couples in Bronte as well as other novels, T.V. soaps and reality shows.

Still, I didn’t want to choose something that everyone had read, but on the other hand I could not resist such a classic love story. In my opinion, Mr Rochester is the most complex character in Jane Eyre. His conduct throughout the book is often cruel and heartless, but as we read more about him, and as he befriends Jane, we begin to see him as the lonely and unloved he was before her arrival.

For me, the most devastating part of the book is when he explains his behaviour to Jane and his desperate plea for forgiveness is rejected. Despite loving each other Jane, feeling betrayed by Rochester, runs away and leaves him miserable and alone at Fairfield.

The book finishes with the typical grand gestures of love from both characters. True to the form, when Jane returns to Fairfield, they are married. But still, for me the most dramatic scene is that when Jane and Rochester realise that despite their love and intimacy, they cannot continue with their relationship.

I hope that re-living the drama on Friday night will be as enjoyable for you as it is for me.

Tickets for our Museums at Night event, ‘Love and Other Disasters’, on Friday 16 May at 10pm. are £5 each, and can be purchased in person at Reception, or by calling 01244 532 350.If you would like to do a reading at the event, or provide an extract to be read out on your behalf please email louisa.yates@gladlib.org to be added to the list.